Despite recent advances in technology for upper-limb prostheses, artificial
arms and hands are still unable to provide users with sensory feedback, such as
the "feel" of things being touched or awareness of limb position and movement.
In a step toward overcoming these challenges, The Defense Advanced Research
Projects Agency (DARPA) has awarded prime contracts for Phase 1 of its Hand
Proprioception and Touch Interfaces (HAPTIX) program.
As part of DARPA's commitment to help restore full and natural functionality
to wounded Service members and veterans, and in support of the White House
brain initiative, HAPTIX seeks to create a prosthetic hand system that moves
and provides sensation like a natural hand.
Sensory feedback, especially from the hand, is vitally important for many
functions, and HAPTIX seeks to create a sensory experience so rich and vibrant
that users would want to wear their prostheses full time. By restoring sensory
functions, HAPTIX also aims to reduce or eliminate phantom limb pain, which
affects about 80 percent of amputees.
"The ultimate goal for HAPTIX is to create a device that is safe, effective
and reliable enough for use in everyday activities. DARPA is partnering with
scientists at the Food and Drug Administration to help develop standards for
verifying safety and quantifying benefits of this new class of advanced
technologies. We hope to streamline the process of validating technologies that
can help our military Service members and veterans who have been injured while
serving our country," said Doug Weber, DARPA program manager.